Thomas Feuerstein

twelve parts, 180 x 240 cm

THESAURUS depicts a bookcase with row upon row of mainly antiquarian reference works. Here, Thomas Feuerstein (*1968 Innsbruck, AT) directly references the use of the word “thesaurus”, which comes from the ancient Greek thesaurós, meaning “treasure” or “storehouse”. The word “treasure” comes from the Latin word thesaurus. In today’s world, “thesaurus” describes a systematic structure for acquiring knowledge, in which grouped concepts such as synonyms or descriptive attributes are used to characterise a topic as accurately as possible. Feuerstein created this pin-sharp work by merging multiple individual images to show sets of encyclopaedias arranged alphabetically from A to Z. On closer examination of the titles, we find a disparate range of topics covered, from algorithms and art to curiosity and cybernetics, from chance and destiny to guardian angels and neurology, from obsession and occultism to servers and souls, and from time to zombies. Hidden among the shelves are some obvious paradoxes, such as books that look for all the world like 19th century editions but deal with contemporary subject-matter. One such example is the book entitled Server. The job of deciphering the overall theme of the artistic and alphabetical arrangement of the terms is left to the imagination and intellectual creativity of the individual observer, who sees reflected in this thesaurus of terms on human existence an expression of himself and his own questions.

The word Daimon comes from the ancient Greek and is the root of the English term demon. Thomas Feuerstein uses this title to reference etymological developments in language, a similar technique to the one used in his photographic work entitled Thesaurus. The Daimon series is composed of murals as well as large-scale installations. In these works, Feuerstein engages with the use of the term daemon in computing. In this field, daemons are digital operations that signal errors. For instance, if e-mail transmission fails because the address is wrong, the user is informed by the failure daemon. This type of routine also runs on the internet, however, cataloguing information on search histories and, ultimately, all internet users who cannot access information about or exert any control over online activity trackers. Feuerstein explores these discrete, dark powers – demons of the digital age – in his Daimon works. The EPO’s Daimon depicts 760 dials which are more reminiscent of adjusting screws on old-fashioned domestic appliances than high-tech digital instrumentation. Feuerstein thus creates an ornamental and almost anachronistic allegory of the digital or, rather, the relationship between man and technology.


DAIMON, 2007/2020
122 x 230 cm

© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; courtesy of Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman, Innsbruck